Youth Services is one of the five areas of service under the RI strategic plan. It recognizes the positive change implemented by youth and young adults through leadership development activities, involvement in community and international service projects, and exchange programs that enrich and foster world peace and cultural understanding.
Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club has long been committed to serving youth in our community. Many are participants in Rotary’s youth and young adult programs: Interact, Rotaract, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLS), and Rotary Youth Exchange. As stated by Past RI President Luis Vicente Giay at the 1996 RI Convention in Calgary, Alberta, Canada:
“Our vision for the future, now more than ever, is the difference between success and failure. The New Generations (Youth) are our investment in the future. Let us begin to build that future today.”
Interact is Rotary’s service club for youth in grades 6-12. Interact clubs can be community-based or school based. Individual Rotary Clubs sponsor Interact Clubs and provide them with support and guidance, but each Interact club is self-governing and self-supporting. The goals of Interact include developing leadership skills and personal integrity, demonstrating helpfulness and respect for others, understanding the value of individual responsibility and hard work, and advancing international understanding and goodwill.
In 1962, 23 students in Melbourne Florida came together to form the first Interact Club. Since then, thousands of communities around the world have benefitted from the service of Interact clubs. Interactors have discovered a program that offers fun, meaningful service activities while providing a chance to develop leadership skills and meet new friends. In turn, sponsoring Rotary Clubs have gained increased support for projects and fresh ideas for service while helping to develop future Rotarians.
ORBRC sponsors the Interact Club at Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge. Beginning in 2008, and named Youth Act (Interact was only at the High School level at that time), a club was chartered at Robertsville under the leadership of Teacher/Sponsor Norma James and ORBRC Liaison Cathy Toth. Since then, the club has grown in size and intensity. Now, under the Interact banner, approximately 20 regular members meet bi-monthly using a meeting format that alternates programs and service projects. The club has become known at the school as a club that gets things done, and it is not unusual for the club to be approached by teachers and staff with requests for help on worthy projects. In 2015, the teacher sponsor was Robin Hardy, with Brenda Thornburgh as the ORBRC Liason. Kathy Douglas assumed the role of Teacheer/Sponsor in 2016. (Teacher/Sponsor and Honorary Rotarian Norma James retired this past school year but will remain as a club mentor for the foreseeable future).
Examples of Robertsville Middle School Interact Projects:
The RMS Interact Club conducts meetings in a semi-formal fashion. The club elects officers for the year each fall, and attendance is taken with incentives for perfect attendance each year. Also, Interact officers are able to attend the District Interact Conference in most years, thanks to the support of ORBRC. This weekend conference provides a wonderful opportunity for leadership development and fellowship among Interactors around the district. Approximately 700 students attended from approximately 30 clubs.
In 2015/2016, a new Interact Club will be started at Jefferson Middle School in Oak Ridge. The Sunset Rotary Club of Oak Ridge will be the sponsoring club, and the team of Norma James and Brenda Thornburgh from Robertsville Interact will assist in chartering and mentoring that club as requested.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)
ORBRC supports the annual RYLA workshop, generally held each fall. This one day event allows young people ages 14-30 to attend a training workshop that focuses on leadership, professional development, and personal growth.
District 6780 Four-Way Speech Competition
This speech competition, held each spring at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee, is open to high school students from around the district. Instilling the values of the Rotary Four-Way Test into this group of students will have a profound influence on their lives as they enter adulthood. Values formed will shape their lives as they approach their careers and endeavors.
Each club in the district is encouraged to have competitions in their area, concluding no later than the first week in March.
competing for a total of $4500 to the top three finishers. For more information, contact Brenda Thornburgh, ORBRC Youth Services Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graduating High School Interactors are encouraged to join Rotaract, a Rotary sponsored service organization for young men and women aged 18-30. In addition to meeting and networking with other young adults, Rotaractors in over 150 countries and geographical areas carry out local and international service projects, often in sponsorship with their sponsor Rotary club.
ORBRC is currently involved in helping to initiate a Rotaract Club in the Oak Ridge area.